Son of Same

by
October 28, 2014

Americans love a good sequel. Year after year, the box office champions are derivative films, based on previously successful movies. Remakes and sequels rule the entertainment world.

Many of us rail against a corporate Hollywood seemingly devoid of an original idea, safely betting their production dollars on tried franchises that they know Americans will patronize. Exciting and innovative entertainment has little chance of making it to the big screen, and we are all the more bland because of it.

What critics often fail to notice, however, is that America’s comfort with sequels is not limited to our filmed entertainment. Even our political system is driven by sequels. They just aren’t called sequels. They’re called relatives.

One of the great complaints the American colonists lodged against the British monarchy was that it was just that – a monarchy. In a monarchy, the king or queen is succeeded by the son or the daughter. Nepotism rules the day. The patriots who led our nation to independence correctly identified this particular aspect of a monarchy as singularly problematic, as blood descent not only doesn’t guarantee successful leadership. In fact, it almost always ensures the opposite.

Social critics have long complained that Americans crave a king. Since we don’t have a House of Windsor, we create a House of Kennedy, or House of Bush. Both of those houses brought our nation feckless and uninspired leaders, unsuccessful sequels all.

The far larger problem lies not with the self-styled dynasties of Papa Bush and Joseph Kennedy. Even the minor perturbations birthed by the periodic candidacies of the Kennedy or Bush clan are well reported and, eventually, controlled. The greater crisis for our democracy lies with the huge amount of other political children seeking to continue familial rule on their parents’ throne.

Republicans have had no shortage of nepotistic pretenders to office, including not only the Bushes, but the Doles, Murkowskis, Macks, Capitos, Shusters and Joneses. But compared with the Democrats, they are pikers.

In one state alone, Georgia, the grandson of President Jimmy Carter runs for governor and the daughter of long time senator Sam Nunn vies to claim a seat in that august body. Senator Mark Pryor holds a seat, as did his father David Pryor many years ago. Governor Andrew Cuomo holds the same seat his father Mario held in the 1980’s.

The Udall dynasty has produced two United States senators, though the Colorado member of this clan may soon find himself looking for a job among the lobbyists on K Street. The list goes on and on.

Of course, other than the regular Bush eruptions we endure like annual horror film installments, the most anticipated sequels in politics are likely to be something like Dawn of the Planet of the Clintons and Be Gone Girl: the Return of Michelle Obama.

In today’s mass media world, if your product has brand recognition, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s good or not. Would anyone argue that the latest iteration of Transformers or Captain America, both box office smash hits, adds anything of value to the culture?

Similarly, what do all these political sequels add? Sure, their names are well known but, for the most part, they are retreads of failed politicasters of the past. Have any of these recent political offspring helped our nation grow or improve – or are they just the latest sequel to a bad movie?

Americans elect the government they deserve. Unfortunately, that’s a huge indictment, considering the government we have. Too many Americans require safety and comfort, instead of bold action to solve our problems. As a consequence, we are mired in seemingly intractable problems that grow by the day. Do we really feel that the generic son-of or daughter-of the past worthless politico will offer us the kind of bold initiative we need to lead America once again to the top tier of nations?

Just because we’re used to the plot, and even sat through an earlier version in the theatres doesn’t mean that the sequel will leave us cheering and happy. Why do we think that continuing to elect these political sequels will do anything more?

The definition of insane is doing the same wrong thing and expecting a different and better result. It would be far better if our nation reserved insane behavior for the actors in the latest horror flick, not the men and women who should be shaping our future.

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